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How displaced migratory birds could use volatile atmospheric compounds to find their migratory corridor: a test using a particle dispersion model


Safi, Kamran; Gagliardo, Anna; Wikelski, Martin; Kranstauber, Bart (2016). How displaced migratory birds could use volatile atmospheric compounds to find their migratory corridor: a test using a particle dispersion model. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 10(175):online.

Abstract

Olfaction represents an important sensory modality for navigation of both homing pigeons and wild birds. Experimental evidence in homing pigeons showed that airborne volatile compounds carried by the winds at the home area are learned in association with wind directions. When displaced, pigeons obtain information on the direction of their displacement using local odors at the release site. Recently, the role of olfactory cues in navigation has been reported also for wild birds during migration. However, the question whether wild birds develop an olfactory navigational map similar to that described in homing pigeons or, alternatively, exploit the distribution of volatile compounds in different manner for reaching the goal is still an open question. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we evaluate the possibilities of reconstructing spatio-temporally explicit aerosol dispersion at large spatial scales using the particle dispersion model FLEXPART. By combining atmospheric information with particle dispersion models, atmospheric scientists predict the dispersion of pollutants for example, after nuclear fallouts or volcanic eruptions or wildfires, or in retrospect reconstruct the origin of emissions such as aerosols. Using simple assumptions, we reconstructed the putative origin of aerosols traveling to the location of migrating birds. We use the model to test whether the putative odor plume could have originated from an important stopover site. If the migrating birds knew this site and the associated plume from previous journeys, the odor could contribute to the reorientation towards the migratory corridor, as suggested for the model scenario in displaced Lesser black-backed gulls migrating from Northern Europe into Africa.

Abstract

Olfaction represents an important sensory modality for navigation of both homing pigeons and wild birds. Experimental evidence in homing pigeons showed that airborne volatile compounds carried by the winds at the home area are learned in association with wind directions. When displaced, pigeons obtain information on the direction of their displacement using local odors at the release site. Recently, the role of olfactory cues in navigation has been reported also for wild birds during migration. However, the question whether wild birds develop an olfactory navigational map similar to that described in homing pigeons or, alternatively, exploit the distribution of volatile compounds in different manner for reaching the goal is still an open question. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we evaluate the possibilities of reconstructing spatio-temporally explicit aerosol dispersion at large spatial scales using the particle dispersion model FLEXPART. By combining atmospheric information with particle dispersion models, atmospheric scientists predict the dispersion of pollutants for example, after nuclear fallouts or volcanic eruptions or wildfires, or in retrospect reconstruct the origin of emissions such as aerosols. Using simple assumptions, we reconstructed the putative origin of aerosols traveling to the location of migrating birds. We use the model to test whether the putative odor plume could have originated from an important stopover site. If the migrating birds knew this site and the associated plume from previous journeys, the odor could contribute to the reorientation towards the migratory corridor, as suggested for the model scenario in displaced Lesser black-backed gulls migrating from Northern Europe into Africa.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:14 Feb 2017 13:21
Last Modified:14 Feb 2017 13:24
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1662-5153
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00175

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